As Queer Eye’s food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski has traveled (and eaten) all over the world. He’s visited Atlanta, Kansas City, Australia, and Tokyo for the show so far, with Philadelphia slated to be next—although he hasn’t spent too much time in the city, he’s already a big fan of the La Colombe in Fishtown, and prefers his cheesesteaks with bright orange American cheese (and plenty of caramelized onions.) But when Porowski isn’t traveling, you can usually find him camped out in New York. In a recent interview with Food & Wine, he shared some of his favorite local haunts, from Balthazar to a cult-favorite West Village restaurant. First up? His weekend coffee routine, which isn’t complete without a croissant.
“On a Saturday morning when I’m at home, I go to Breads Bakery or Balthazar and I get the perfect croissant,” Porowski told me in a recent interview. “They’re the two best bakeries for croissants in the city, in my humble opinion. [I also grab] a jar of Nutella, and I want to make a custom cappucino, and kind of adjust and play around with it.”
We then moved on to talking about our mutual love for zucchini flowers and lemon pasta, before arriving at Porowski’s other restaurant of choice—Via Carota. The West Village Italian concept is helmed by Chefs Rita Sodi and Jody Williams, who recently won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: New York City, and it’s a favorite among our staff as well. The space is intimate and rustic; the menu, reasonably priced and featuring dishes that celebrate the elegant simplicity of Italian food with a modern twist. (Not to mention, the portions are just the right size.) It’s the kind of neighborhood restaurant you can’t help but to fall in love with.
“Love Via Carota,” he says. “They make amazing cacio e pepe, their carrots are fantastic, their puntarelle salad is amazing.”
In addition to Porowski’s recommendations, we love the tortelli with smoked ricotta, and tagliatelle with prosciutto and Parmigiano. In fact, you can’t go wrong with any of the pastas, but the rest of the menu deserves its due diligence, too. Expect to share—your server will guide you through placing a few appetizer orders (try the deliciously smoky ‘nduja arancini) and vegetables, which take up an impressive third of the food selection. For larger plates, the grilled octopus and green olive pesto is wonderfully briny, while the polpette (Sicilian meatballs) with pine nuts and raisins are a departure from the classic meatballs you’re used to. Whatever you do, don’t leave without checking out the mini menu of Negronis, which range from Classico (Campari, sweet vermouth, gin) to Sbagliato (Prosecco replaces gin for a lighter, bubbly take).
In other news, Porowski also gave us brief insight into his upcoming (and first) cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen, which is set to release this coming September. He named Polish hunter’s stew as his favorite recipe out of the bunch; plus, hinting at a few signature New York restaurant dishes too, which you can learn more about in the interview.